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The Modern Battle for Equality

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“That’s gay.”

Unless you were born before the 1980s, you’ve probably said this at some point. Whether the dude at Taco Bell forgot to give you extra queso, or you hit every red light on the way to work, the phrase just gets blurted out from time to time. Hey, it happens.

Why has the word “gay” changed meaning throughout the years? It was originally used to describe something as being happy or cheerful. Now, it refers to people who are homosexual, and in everyday slang is a synonym for the word “stupid.” 

Though the expression “that’s gay” is seemingly harmless, it shows something deeper about our society. Many of us think homosexuality is stupid, wrong, and downright sinful.

According to a 2010 poll done by CNN/Time, forty-eight percent of Americans think being homosexual is morally wrong. That means almost half of our country lives by the motto “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”  

Everyone is entitled to their beliefs on the moral aspect of homosexuality, though I must wonder why people find it their duty to decide what is sin and what isn’t. Last time I checked, America wasn’t inside the pearly gates of Heaven.

What is really “morally wrong” is denying citizens their constitutional rights. No true American can argue with that.

Yes, I’m talking about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Created in 1993, the policy forbids openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from serving in the United States military. Earlier this month a federal district court ruled that the law is in fact unconstitutional, which really shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The clause upholds the idea that government must respect all legal rights that a person is entitled to by the law.

According to Newsweek.com, the Obama administration “asked the court to stay the injunction against enforcement of DADT while they appealed it.” So, basically the government is backing the banning of gays in the military, even though they believe the policy should be done away with eventually.

Will this country ever learn the lessons of its history? No one should be made to feel inferior for being who they are. Race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation should not matter when it comes down to fighting for our country. It’s ironic that the armed forces of the “land of the free” can kick a perfectly good person out of the military for something as trivial as being gay.

In the late 1800s, the lovely concept of segregation brought with it the “separate but equal” policy. It’s disturbing to me that my own mother can remember when black people weren’t allowed out past dark because of the Jim Crow laws. To realize these types of things were happening just a generation before my own is unnerving. I won’t even bother going into the issues of slavery and women not having the right to vote, which are so obviously prejudiced it makes me want to hurl.

Sadly, the world in general has a habit of oppressing people for things that shouldn’t matter. As recently as September of this year, France passed a law prohibiting the wearing of any veil that covers the face – including the burqa, which covers the entire body. The law, which goes into effect in the spring, will make wearing veils in public a fineable offense even if it is for religious purposes.

It saddens me that even the word “gay” carries with it such a negative stigma to some people. Homosexuality isn’t hurting anyone, except for the people who are homosexual and don’t receive love and acceptance from our society. The increasing reports of gay teen suicides just this fall is proof enough of that.

Everyone deserves the right to get married, to fight for the country they love, and to live peacefully. The simple truth is this: all people were created equal. Whether or not you believe in God doesn’t matter in this case. Deep down we all know this saying to be true. 

If you’d like to get involved with the movement against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, please visit www.sldn.org.

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About Kylee Gwartney

  • Jules

    There are some good ideas in this article, but it could have been a little for focused.

    You should change the top line to 70’s, or maybe earlier I don’t even know when the term “gay” started being used to mean something is “stupid.” I know my generation used it (70’s) and in my opinion have been slower to give it up than our 80’s counterparts.

    A couple of things:

    If this article is about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it should have been more focused on that.

    2nd – everyone who is a legal adult does have the right to get married. It’s the definition of marriage you are really talking about. And for most people it just means changing the man and woman part. I don’t think many people really thinks there should be no definition of marriage at all.

  • Fokker Friendship

    I like equality, cuz I can elbow out the competition to the get to the lifeboat first.